A PLACE FOR STORY TELLING in Spiritual Direction
I am not “a reader” or a “picture goer” yet I have a story to tell. I thought my story was grounded in “serious study”… purposeful not trivial… and yet I am a listener to the religious stories, to the Grimms stories, to the larrikin stories of the country cousins at the racetrack and to the everyday parlance of t.v. and life stories, heart stories of my community. How dismissive of me… when the curtain opens, the cover turns back – there is much to be disclosed.
How wonder filled it has been to be taken on new paths and cross thresholds of imagination not normally traversed or at best warily skirted. It has been a delight to journey into other realms… of film in recent times and to reconfigure defining parts of me and delimit fields of experience. And now to ‘fess up’ I acknowledge words of wisdom from my sage, Melbourne priest, film critic and writer Peter Malone:
“ Maybe it is that old Puritanical thing that has influenced religious people. Entertainment, while necessary and usually enjoyed, is still rather suspect. It is not quite serious enough – and we should be engaged in what is more serious.”
Having received much wisdom from our sharings over many weeks and reflected on my experiences, I have found new mediums of expression and self knowledge. To have a trusted guide who enabled me to traverse from the “profane” into the secular arena enabled me to move in more freedom and strength from my own stance, values and integrity.
Explanations of sensibilities in story-telling , as raised by John Dominic Crossan, in “The Dark Interval”  gave me insight respecting the amoral character of such in interests, tastes and styles, and triggered my recognition that widening my own sensibilities facilitates my capacity to feel and grow in openness to emotions.
“So sensibility is a key idea to help us to appreciate our differences in responding to media and the arts. We recognize characteristics of our sensibility but cannot impose them as expectation on another…or vice versa.”
On the formative nature of experience , Stephen Crites notes: “We imbibe a sense of the meaning of our own baffling dramas from these stories, and this sense of its meaning in turn affects the form of a man’s experience and style of his action….Stories not only give us ways of understanding reality, they help determine what we are likely to perceive or be blind to – and recognize as real.”
This is a type of check for me in listening to others’ stories in spiritual direction as well as in various media. It adds to my inner dialogue on tolerance and individual values.
For this reflection, I am shying away from an appraisal of film or classification of story types or archetypes in favour of deepening my understanding between process and human experience. The focus on emotional responses to movie and storytelling releases me from a tendency to intellectualize and encourages me to explore my imaginative, intuitive and unconscious self and ultimately in spiritual direction afford this opportunity to others.